The loss of a child is heartbreaking, friends become the backbone of support or walk away. What do you do? How can you help? What happens in the end?
The day you walk into the room and your child is not there, the clothes are gone, no longer in disarray around the floor lodging with empty packets, dirty plates and your best crystal glasses, that day is the day your heart sinks lower than ever. No more teenage door slamming, shouting accusations of not caring or demands for cash or car keys, no more, only silence, times when you are alone, your home is clean and tidy can be lonely times, your child has left home.
If you are one of the lucky ones, the washing will return for a long weekend and your child for an overnight stay. If you are not, if your child never returns, how in goodness do you cope?
No the question is genuine not a guide, not a how to, but a genuine, how on earth do you cope? The pain of the empty nest syndrome is bad enough but at least those who go through it are prepared for the event, to lose a child through death is something every parent dreads.
The question asked in this article however is this; what if it is your friend who suffers the tragic emotion of child loss? What is your role? What do you do? You loved that child too, your pain is real but where is your support and how do you support?
The parent may feel betrayed, robbed and all the emotions they deserve to have but what about you- the friend? Within minutes your whole relationship changes, you look at your friend with pitying eyes and awkwardness, you cry together and the putting on the kettle actions take over. Then you watch while family of your friend arrive, they might not know her as well as you do but they have the right of family. What do or can you do?
There is nothing you can do exept be there, quietly putting the kettle on, opening the door to streams of caring, well meaning people. Be there to hold your friend when they can no longer stand or be strong. Be there to take the torrent of abuse, the accusations that you don't deserve children as you go out to work, you just have to be there, you are a friend. You love this person, despite their declarations of hatred, they are part of you. You know they are only venting their loss is pain, their grief is raw and you watch with no cure. You feel helpless.
In time the grief is not so raw, your friend returns to reality, to face the future, to face life without their child. Possibly a life without all the things you are blessed with, your friend then may look at you through different eyes. They might dismiss you from their life. Nothing will change their mind and you have to deal with their choice.
Whatever the future your friend paves for you and your relationship is a future you have to cope with.
Be kind to yourself knowing you were there during a time when your friend needed you is and know you did what a true friend should do, you were there. You supported a friend when they lost a child. It might be an idea to talk to a counsellor yourself. Unload your sadness and grief. Especially if you lost the child and friend during the process.